Headline Reversal

Figure 2 City and Suburb Growth Reversals

source: Brookings Institution/William Frey/May, 2014

Navigating through  a headline!

Goosing the housing recovery? A Wall St. Journal story with a big headline  and an even bigger arial picture of a housing development observed  that pronouned “Suburbs Regain their Appeal”.

The numbers in the story are not compelling; overall cities are still growing slightly faster that the suburbs- and suburbs grew at a rate of .96%, roughly on par with the .95% growth a year earlier. Not much change.

Bloggers were quick to note that the definition of suburb is key- after all, infill and higher density are taking place- particularly if the suburbs are near mass transportation.  The validity is questioned by “Bacon” the blogger.

Why not go to the source though. Note census data compiled by William Frey at the Brookings Inst itiute. The suburban growth is flat and the cities are recovering the ground they lost over the last 30 years as the Baby Boomers fled the cities.

Moving to the Burbs



The Millennials say they like the urban experience but there can be  compelling financial reasons  to move out of  the major cities. In San Franciscothe median house value (March, 2014)  in the city was  $937,500 but only $555,000 elsewhere in the Bay Area. Sixty percent of those who sell leave SF proper. But, where do they move to? A survey by Paragon Real Estate followed the trajectories of different sellers. One couple ended up in Burlingame. Why Burlingame? If you know the Bay Area, it is only 15 to 20 minutes to San Francisco….by Bart….and maybe 30 minutes  to the South Bay….by Caltrain. Sellers may be leaving the city, but they are not necessarily jumping in their cars when they do so.

Driving- in- Place



Aging in Place (from the National Association of Home Builders web):

Homeowners want to stay in their homes for the duration. By instituting simple universal design techniques, professional Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists can insure that you live in your home comfortable, safely and independently for as long as you want.”

I like the NAHB site- don’t get me wrong. But really, has anyone thought out driving-in-place? Better put,driving-from-place? No matter how well you retrofit a home for aging, you can not change the simple facts of getter older and driving ability.


Back to the Garden



It is hard to ignore the lead real-estate stories in the Wall St. Journal  (5/7/2014).

The first story, p.1 , finds that in Cleveland and other cities there is high demand for inner-city apartments. Office spaces are being converted into apartments to meet the new demand.

Developers Turn Former Office Buildings Into High-End Apartments – WSJ.com.

The second story, p. c1, is that there is a real-estate slump in Hong Kong. New complexes are not seeing the buyers (but the prices, at US$2,500 a square foot) might be a deterrent.

But, the real story, p. c10, brings the two stories together. In  Hong Kong buyers are showing a preference  for vintage apartments, built from say  1960 to 1980. These units do not look as pretty on the outside, but they have more space and better layouts. People don’t seem to care if their residence lacks a clubhouse or a gym.

So, what does that have to do with Cleveland and the surge in apartments  there?  As younger people move out of the suburbs and discover more urban settings, they take with them an affinity for more eclectic spaces, openness, charm, and some garden greenery.